Andoni Iraola Highlights Defensive Contribution As The Area Iñigo Vicente Must Improve

Inigo Vicente Mirandés

Iñigo Vicente celebrates his first goal in the second division (LaLiga)

Slowly but surely, Iñigo Vicente is starting to find his footing in the Segunda. The Athletic starlet is currently spending the year on loan with Mirandés and over the weekend scored and assisted a goal to lead the team to a 2-0 win over Extremadura. Speaking with Cope Bilbao, manager and Athletic legend Andoni Iraola was full of praise for the 21-year-old magician.

“Iñigo had the prize at the end the other day with a goal and assist. It was a very good game. It’s difficult for him to catch the rhythm of the competition, but the truth is that he’s improving a lot. He’s been working at a much faster pace for the last month, and at a better level too. Let’s see if Iñigo manages to give continuity to the game he had the other day.”

With time, Iraola believes that Vicente could earn a more permanent role in the starting lineup, but it won’t be easy. “Obviously he has competition at his position because those who also play there, Martín Merquelanz and Álvaro Rey, are also giving a very high level of performance,” said the manager. “It suits the team to have different options.”

For years, the biggest thing holding Vicente back has always been his defensive contributions. Iraola admitted that the forward has to improve in that area of the game, but also praised his ability to create chances with the ball.

“What we all want is for Iñigo to become a Primera player. He has the qualities, especially when making decisions with the ball. He’s very good in that area. He measures up very well at times and I think he understands the game well and what he needs to improve. He’s the first to tell you that his defensive level has to improve. Not only in terms of willingness to defend, but also being stronger and playing with the rhythm required by the level of competition.”

While Vicente must improve his defensive abilities, Iraola has no questions about the player’s overall understanding of football. “Iñigo already has the most difficult thing which is understanding the game,” says Iraola. “From there, he knows that he has to press to adapt to the pace that football demands, in this case the second division, and especially the first division which is where we expect him to play with Athletic.” It may only be a matter of time before Iñigo Vicente is showing his magic at San Mamés.

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